Date: Wed, 21 Dec 2011 20:40:06 -0800
Reply-To: DCHAS-L <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU>
Sender: DCHAS-L Discussion List <dchas-l**At_Symbol_Here**>
From: "Baker, Charles" <science**At_Symbol_Here**QLSD.WEDNET.EDU>
Subject: Re: Chemical Safety headlines from Google (13 articles): MN
student burns
In-Reply-To: <CAD4_Q1CJOXGVAuG-w=QV7Q-qwQgMnXfZO0hQVP1S422JLVUChQ**At_Symbol_Here**>

Thanks, HM, you clued us in to what the Middle School sciencedemo was intended. Doesn’t take long on Google/YouTube to get me started on what a little seeming, well-intentioned school science can lead to:


100s of versions of ‘entertainment’ with methanol, etc and dish-soap, including what appears to be campus science access unawares:


Speaking of unsupervised: (read the ‘more’ description)


… and here is one version at large, this is like that which resulted in the MNJunior High explosion. This one is not “properly performed.”

(How sad after last Spring’s accident to watch what this long-haired student does – the least of many imprudent observations.)


Just finding a few of these is enough to see that whatever the care taken in safety teaching, sense doesn’t seem to sink in as effectively as the sensational.


Charlie Baker, Quilcene HS (no, none of these are mine, thankfully; even the better videos are safety deficient!)



From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [mailto:dchas-l**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU] On Behalf Of Heather McCollor
Sent: Thursday, December 15, 2011 7:28 AM



I followed the Minnesota HS (junior high) story because it is a Minneapolis suburban school close to home.  Both reports on the DCHAS-L are the same incident.  Both the reports on TV had interviews with the student who was hospitalized with facial, neck and  hand burns.  This student looked and spoke more like an senior in high school than a 9th grade student.  The student was released from the hospital the following weekend.  Both the TV stations had follow-up reports with the principal of the school and the family.

If you googled the story on the Maple Grove Junior High explosion, one TV report showed the experiment properly performed on YouTube and both had the interview with the student at the hospital.  Like most early reports on any tragic accident (auto, fire, assault) the details are mostly from people who were there since no professional investigations are ever concluded before the newspapers and TV reports are public.  In defense of the TV reporters, at least they had the YouTube video and spoke with the student directly and not students who were not in the classroom.  The newspaper (Minneapolis StarTribune and St Paul Pioneer Press) were lessdetailed.

The teacher in this case is on paid administrative leave until the investigations are concluded. 

Heather McCollor
Laboratory Materials Supervisor
Macalester College
1600 Grand Ave
St Paul, MN  55105

NAOSMM president July 2011-July 2013

On Wed, Dec 14, 2011 at 7:09 PM, Secretary, ACS Division of Chemical Health and Safety <secretary**At_Symbol_Here**> wrote:

From: "Baker, Charles" <science**At_Symbol_Here**>
Subject: RE: [DCHAS-L] Chemical Safety headlines from Google (13 articles)
Date: December 14, 2011 3:29:28 PM EST
To: DCHAS-L <dchas-l**At_Symbol_Here**>

First: Please note that my comments are not intended to be critical of the DCHAS-L summary or editor collecting and reporting these headline notes. Thank you for these!

As a HS science teacher, I was most interested in drawing attention to high school/public school lab accidents and safety from two recent Minnesota summaries.

Second: After a second and third read, I think that a little more research might reveal the two lab articles are ‘stories’ from two different TV-news outlets and may have originated from the same classroom “explosion” somewhere inMinnesota. By stories, I intend that both reports show a lack of understanding and general science background. Whether these stories are also confused by the actual journalism, or at least by the twist that any news communication can suffer to fit a TV-news/entertainment format … I suspect some of the misunderstandable presentation is further confused by the choice of sensational descriptors, rather than clear, direct reporting. I am sure both were confusing for our editor to excerpt.

Third: The issue is safety, and safety is mentioned in the article excerpts and quotations from HS instructors, though it is unclear if it is the same instructor(s) implicated in the newsworthy demonstration. I began teaching twenty years ago, and the first seminar, early on, emphasized the “prudent [hu]man”as the model against which I would be pitched in court if I were ever to have a demonstration or lab result in classroom danger. To some extent, manyor most school science activities can be of danger (given the inventiveness of teenagers), but our determination is to exercise our skill and training to make this appear and actually be “prudent” for the benefitof education.

I don’t know whether we as elder instructors orthe younger teachers, whom we can doubt the same soundness of thought thatage has earned, are the worse for temptations to “WOW” the HS students with hope of turning them to a life of science.

My experience has been that the older of us more often have the ‘pet’ demoor two that we have performed ‘safely’ all our career, such as: bubbling propane, tubed from the gas jets through dish-detergent water, producing a foam. Carrying the suds up above the sink, ignition will make animpressive flame all around the arms as the suds run down hands and bare arms – as if advertising a preferred dish-detergent. Of course, it is almost as impressive lighting your home faucet in a fracking zone, but manyof us fail in having a clear educational or instructional, “prudent” purpose. [No, it’s not mine; yes, I was astonished of even suggesting such an idea to teens. … and yes, I wonder what demos I do that astonish “prudent” others?]

I am sure all such events, even those demonstrating important instructional principles, run well, year after year, until they don’t  … just once. Then we all hear about it in such headlines, and all are responsible to second guess whether we’ll become the news headlines one day, appearing so obviouslyim-prudent, no matter how our reason and rationalizing had until that moment convinced us. Sorry to get carried on with this; ever in the back of thescience instructor’s mind.

Charlie Baker, Quilcene High School - Sciences

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